May 14, 2009

Esmeralda in Canada

The ESMERALDA docked at the Port of Québec's Pier 21 (Pointe-à-Carcy) at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 8.  The ship set sail for Halifax on Tuesday, May 12. Reports from Amnesty International, the US Senate and Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission describe the ship as a kind of a floating jail and torture chamber for political prisoners of the Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship from 1973 to 1980. It is claimed that probably over a hundred persons were kept there at times and subjected to hideous treatment, among them the British priest Miguel Woodward. RY presents a 
Message on the eve of the ESMERALDA leaving Chile, 2009

Once again, as a white-washed floating grave or as a poor raped woman – in body and soul – but dressed up in shiny shoes and elegant garments, the Esmeralda is about to sail carrying the legacy of unpunished crimes aboard. Is it possible not to be embarrassed and ashamed by this vessels’ horrific history? 

In the same fashion as the new leaders of the Chilean Navy must assume all financial responsibilities acquired by their predecessors, they also must take responsibility for the inherited moral debt to the Chilean nation. We have communicated in September 2008 to Admiral Rodolfo Codina -Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy – forty steps to bring truth and justice, among them: 

Provide information regarding the murdering by the Chilean Navy  of 180 civilians in the V Region, half of these civilian were made “disappeared”

Provide the total number and identities of those arrested and then made disappeared by the Chilean Navy

Disclose the secret burial or disposal location of the bodies of civilians murdered by the Chilean Navy, such as those buried in a clandestine grave in the Playa Ancha Burial Grounds # 14

Provide the identities of the Esmeralda victims, as well as the identities of those responsible for crimes against humanity committed aboard the Esmeralda

Disclose the secret grave location of Father Miguel Woodward, tortured to death aboard the Esmeralda

After six months of petitioning Admiral Codines we have had no reply.  In the meantime, silence, lies and deceit continues to be the behaviour of the Chilean Navy. 

Let us remember that in 2008, the Chilean Ambassador in Greece, Ms Sophia Prats, during her official greeting speech aboard the Esmeralda, spoke to the cadets about the tragedy that the Pinochet dictatorship had meant for Chile, then she proceeded to join and thanks the crowd that had gathered to protest the Esmeralda visit to the Greek port. Neither Admiral Codina’s Communication Department nor the Chilean press reported this episode to the Chilean people. We hope the torture ship Esmeralda, will have the universal condemnation that it deserves in your shores.

Friends of Miguel Woodward Association, Valparaiso, Chile

Read more about the bloody history of this Tall ship 

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